Car Sharing: A well organized form of hitch hiking. Where if someone is heading somewhere they can sell you an empty seat in their vehicle and you can skip the bus or train for a more comfortable and faster ride.
Luca and I walk to a gas station where we had set up to meet our ride to Berlin. A newer Volkswagen Van pulls in and honks. A tall man with long blonde dread locks and an older woman with long grey hair pulls up and waves. “This is the people you picked for us,” I remark flatly. “It is!” Luca exclaims. We get into the van and I wonder if this hippie thing is a front and we’re about to be brutally murdered. The man with the dreads as it turns out is a highschool teacher and the woman is an elementery school teacher. The highschool teacher can speak english. Hooray! At this point when Luca speaks to other people in german I can get the general idea of what he’s saying. At the moment he is telling the woman how we met. I laugh, and the man driving comments that I must understand a bit. Whenever I hear a word many times I ask Luca what it means and how to use it. I was trying to quietly ask him what Scheiße meant when the man driving piped in with his loud voice, “Scheiße in German, is english Fuck.” I nod and have to admit that that’s a pretty good way to explain it. The man driving is shaking a large bottle of carbonated water. He too didn’t like the gas.
The ride to Berlin is about three hours of not very exciting highway driving from Lübeck. We have to stop to fuel up the van at one point -with propane. All of the sudden Luca is grabbing his things and we’re getting out of the van. Are we here? I look around at my sudden, new surroundings and I am instantly overwhelmed at all the people around me and my heart starts pounding – hard. I stay close to Luca and notice that the majority of people here are so young. The majority of people in Berlin are 20-28 years old I was told later, one of the most influential cities in the world. We walk into a train station.
I have always had a big fear of trains. Big probably isn’t even the right word to describe it. I’m sure you’ve seen a person or dog that’s afraid of storms. They scream and try to get away and hide. Unfortunately it’s that kind of a fear. We bought tickets for the train and I couldn’t stop shaking. The trains coming through were screaming as they went by. All of the people swarm in and out of them easily as if it were a simple thing. Luca, bless him, bought us both a beer for the train. We get on one and it starts moving. I can’t even think or breathe I am beyond terror at this point. Luca tries talking to me and it’s hard for me to respond. I just want to not hear the screaming or the sirens going off in my head and chest. I am drinking my beer fast and within ten minutes I feel its effects. Luca sits down at one stop and motions for me to sit in the seat next to him. He can see and feel my terror easily and asks why I am so afraid. I tell him about the train fiascos of my childhood.
We finally get off and we are somewhere in the city. We walk past a shop and Luca stops and goes back to the shop. There is a beautifully striking petite woman inside and they embrace. “This is Julia.” Luca motions to Julia and she gives me a hug. We continue walking with her and it clicks. “Julia! Your Julia!” I exclaim. She laughs and nods. She leads us through a large door into a grudgy dark hallway with high ceilings and through a courtyard that looks much like a parking lot, but for bicycles. We go up some sets of stairs and she leads us into their apartment. The apartment, is so different from anything I’ve ever seen in real life before. I’ve only ever seen apartments like this on design blogs or in magazines. I am introduced to Jonathan, Luca’s younger brother. We drink more beer and listen to Devendra Banhart. The day turns into night and I am really enjoying myself. Jonathan and Julia teach us a spin off of a card-game I used to play when I was a kid. We are laughing and talking in the kitchen and at one point I look at the time and it’s midnight.
Jonathan takes us outside the apartment and to an elevater. He pushes a butten and the backwall of the elevator opens to a shop. Some kind of hidden loophole? My drunken mind ponders. We go into a liquor store and buy more alcohol. Jonathan then took Luca and I to a Lebenese place where I watched a man make me some kind of falafel. Jonathen was explaining everything as the man made it – It is clear that Berlin is his city. He seemed to know everything there is to know about his Berlin and then some. We made our way back to the apartment and I couldn’t believe how good the falafel is. I was simply in a messy drunken food heaven. It wasn’t just me being drunk that made it good though, it simply was that good. Back at the apartment we went to the courtyard and everyone unlocked a bike. Julia gave me one to use and I thought this was so great. It had been years since I had last been on a bike. When we hit the street, a small gang of five, I felt like a kid again. I couldn’t stop laughing and the smile wouldn’t leave my face. We rode back to the train station and walked our bikes onto the trains. This time wasn’t so bad because I was drunk, and I had a bike. We made our way towards an address Julia had on her phone. We were going to a secret, illegal party. We mazed through Berlin on our bikes and suddenly we stopped. Faint music played somewhere I couldn’t quite figure out where from. We back tracked and followed our ears.
We get off our bikes and walked towards old run down buildings. Overgrown grass, shrubs and trees reached for us as we walked our bikes through a pathway. We locked our bikes to something, I cannot honestly remember what. We followed each other towards the music, coming from one of the abandoned buildings. People were talking and laughing and we headed down some steps to what felt like an old carpet used as curtain. We followed each other inside.
We stayed inside for a bit and I kept thinking to myself, “Hey remember that one time when you joined a small bike gang and went to illegal parties outside of Berlin? Hey remember that one time?” It felt so surreal.
We went back outside and sat down in the cool grass. I smoked a cigarette and enjoyed the conversation. I could overhear some people near us speaking English and found it strangely comforting. We went back inside to dance. I remember catching glimpses of people inside, people smoking, the air heavy and thick with smoke, the loud intensity of people high on cocaine and the people dancing as if the music was taking them close to orgasm – ecstasy. People were bumping in to me and I felt out of place. I was sobering up. I told Jonathan I wanted to leave and he led us back outside to give us directions on how to get back to the apartment. Birds were singing and the daylight had returned back into the sky. We rode our bikes in silence, me struggling to keep up to Luca. The train we also rode in silence, my eyelids felt heavy and I observed the others sleeping on the train. I looked across from me to Luca and couldn’t have possibly guessed what was on his mind. His already dark eyes were black with complex intensity – much akin to fresh black coffee. He seemed lost in thought somewhere. His black eyes met mine, “You are tired.” He stated.
We get back to the apartment and I feel tired but not sleepy. I finally layed down and reflected on the night. I heard Jonathan and Julie get home and drifted off into a heavy, deep sleep.